SBD/October 4, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Thursday Games Draw Ire Of Some NFL Players; Short Weeks Called Into Question

With the NFL's expanded schedule of Thursday games this season, the “issue of recovery time has come into high-def focus," according to Matt Gagne of SI. After playing four games in 18 days, Ravens players “continued to question commissioner Roger Goodell’s willingness to take issues of health and safety seriously.” Ravens DT Terrence Cody said, “The league isn’t doing anything about our safety. They’re just trying to get their money’s worth out of us.” Browns LB Scott Fujita said, “Thursday games are probably good for the bottom line, but they’re not good for the body.” Giants DE Justin Tuck said, “The NFL doesn’t care about anything like (safety). All they care about is the money and the TV ratings. I think they’ve been contradictory for a long time.” Gagne notes NFL Senior VP/Media & Broadcasting Howard Katz “consulted the league’s competition committee and established guidelines” when designing this year's schedule. While the NFLPA is “gathering data to determine whether there’s an uptick in soft-tissue injuries linked to fatigue," the organization "didn't object to Goodell’s expansion of Thursday games” (SI, 10/8 issue).

NFL INTERVENTION: SI’s Phil Taylor writes under the header, "NFL, You Have A Problem." Taylor: “You are a drunk, so intoxicated by your own popularity that it impairs your judgment and makes you feel invincible. ... Your status as the nation’s most successful sport, a money-making machine that takes in upwards of $9 billion per year, has you so buzzed that you think you can do anything.” Taylor writes during "your three-week bender with the replacement officials ... you were embarrassing yourself the whole time.” Taylor: “You trumpet your commitment to player safety by cracking down on helmet-to-helmet contact that so often causes concussions, but you toss those concerns aside by putting more Thursday night games on the schedule, forcing teams to play with short recovery times" (SI, 10/8 issue).

BULLET PROOF? In Seattle, Danny O’Neil wrote, “Teflon’s got nothing on the NFL when it comes to escaping a sticky mess.” Steroid scandals “cripple” baseball, while basketball “locks out its players and takes a decade to recover.” But the NFL "does the same and all was forgotten once it ended.” The NFL “seemed determined to undermine the legitimacy of its own product in the eyes of consumers.” This is “just one more case of the NFL increasing its popular appeal in spite of itself -- because even a self-inflicted accident like the referee lockout ends in applause” (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/30).

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